Jewish Journal

Israeli Babies Almost a Wash - Seculars Making Up for Ultra-Orthodox Fertility Decline

by Pini Herman

August 1, 2011 | 11:38 am

Will There Be Another Two?

Israeli ultra-Orthodox Haredi women in 2010 were averaging one fewer babies than they were five years earlier.  Haredi women are now having 6.5 instead of 7.5 babies according to the Israel Central Bureau of Statistics.

Fertility among Israeli secular women actually increased by 0.15 children over the same 2005-2010 period.  This increase in Israeli secular fertility replaced most (80 percent) of the loss of Israeli Haredi fertility.

Some factors cited are that the ultra-orthodox push toward larger families is economically unsustainable given the high cost of Israeli housing and Haredi women going to work in greater numbers while Haredi husbands often study in yeshivahs up to twenty years into their marriage..

As older Haredi mothers with larger families age out of their childbearing years younger mothers replacing them are expected to have less babies over their lifetimes.

The trend of lower Israeli Haredi fertility is expected to continue.  I estimate that by 2035 Haredi fertility could likely be 3 to 4 babies per Haredi woman. Secular births, currently at slightly above replacement, 2.3 babies may increase to 3 babies per woman, but its doubtful.

The number of never-married single mothers in Israel has increased from 8,400 in 2000 to 15,100 in 2009 – an increase of about 80%.  Its likely that this also contributed to the increase in Israeli secular fertility.

Pini Herman is immediate past President of the Movable Minyan a lay-lead independent congregation in the 3rd Street area. .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) pini00003@gmail.com

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Bruce Phillips is Professor of Sociology and Jewish Communal Studies at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, Los Angeles. He has conducted Jewish population...

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